Gap years: unproductive, costly, and unworthy of time

Kiki Soto, Comment Managing Editor

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Only about 1.2 percent of college freshmen chose to take a gap year before college, according to a 2012 study by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. This means that almost 99 percent of graduating seniors pursuing higher education decided to start their higher education directly after graduating high school. The financial burden, loss of educational momentum, and probable disorganization provided by gap years makes  it clear that this 99 percent is making the best choice.

Although it may sound superficial, many students are bound to feel extreme fear of missing out  when they see all their friends posting pictures on social media about their college   experiences, or  sharing stories about their adorable new roommate. The people you have been in school with for 12 years are now beginning new chapters, and unfortunately, you are left behind.

Taking that year off will put you further back on the educational process and also a year behind your friends. Additionally, the transition between high school and college is already challenging, and taking a year in between may add unnecessary stress to the experience of living and learning in an entirely different environment.

When taking a gap year after high school, you take the risk of losing momentum. While taking a year off can be a refreshing break from non-stop grind in high school, students can find it difficult to get back into a structured schedule and regain their motivation to study.

Additionally, if you are not a goal-oriented student, you can easily get disorganized without a formal educational structure. Despite what some of my peers may believe, I believe you are not an adult at the age of 18 just because the law says you are. A high school student who just graduated may not be mature enough for a solo trip across the world.

Some gap year programs can add extra costs to your educational path. Many students want to travel around or do volunteer work during their gap year, but this can be very expensive and add up toward their student debt. Some programs can cost as much as $50,000 per year, or roughly the same price as one year at an expensive private college, according to the StudentUniverse. Because of the strict financial commitment, only 10 percent of students fully fund their own gap year, according to the Year Out Group.

Maybe the most significant downfall of the gap year is that this year away from school may last forever. Gap years give students a taste of the “real world,” so they may never want to go back to the stress and rigor of the academic lifestyle. Gap years might be more beneficial for students after they earn a degree and can be financially independent. But without a clear-cut plan and money to spend, gap years put students behind academically and financially.

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